Allen Craig Rumors

AL East Notes: Red Sox, Craig, Wieters, Bailey, Tanaka

Here’s the latest from the American League East:

  • The Red Sox risk losing a chance to acquire Cole Hamels of the Phillies by waiting to deal for him, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. While it is too early to judge the team’s current rotation, results — and, perhaps more importantly, reviews from rival scouts — have been less than promising.
  • Meanwhile, the Red Sox are still “trying to find a trade partner” for first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig, per Cafardo. He notes that the club has assigned several “top pro scouts” to watch the Giants, Padres, and Cubs recently, though it is not entirely clear that all of those clubs could match up on Craig.
  • Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will be shut down for about a week after experiencing tendinitis in his surgically-repaired right elbow after his first stint behind the dish, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. Manage Buck Showalter said that he does not see the news as a setback, and indicated that the move was made as an exercise of caution. Wieters’ ability to return to his usually sturdy work with the mask on is critical not only to the team’s hopes this year, but also to his free agent case after the season.
  • Reliever Andrew Bailey made his return to competitive action today for the Yankees, with Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees Blog tweeting that Bailey’s fastball sat in the low 90s in his inning of work. Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka continued to show strong form this spring, as Jennings further reports. If both of those arms can prove healthy and effective, the club’s run prevention efforts will obviously receive a significant boost. While Tanaka pitched much of last season before being shut down with a partial UCL tear, Bailey has not thrown a big league pitch since 2013 and represents pure upside for New York.

Giants Not Actively Pursuing Outfielder

TODAY: The Giants’ inquiry regarding Craig actually took place before Spring Training opened, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports on Twitter. In other words, it was not in response to Pence’s injury.

YESTERDAY: As they prepare to open the season without star right fielder Hunter Pence, the Giants are not presently in active pursuit of another outfield option, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com reports on Twitter. If an addition is made, says Gammons, the club would be looking for a power bat.

San Francisco did recently inquire with the Red Sox on veteran Allen Craig, per the report, but found that Boston was not interested in “selling low.” Craig’s name has come up repeatedly this winter as a trade candidate; after struggling through 2014 and heading to the Sox in a deadline deal, he found himself battling with numerous other viable candidates for a roster spot. His trade value, of course, is weighed down by the $26.5MM left on his contract. Most recently, however, reports out of Boston indicated that the team expects to open the season with him on the 25-man roster.

While losing Pence for a significant stretch was undoubtedly a blow, it is at least somewhat surprising to learn that the team actually showed interest in Craig, particularly since he would not appear to have much of a role when Pence returns. After all, the Giants seemingly utilized their available payroll space over the offseason, and have a reasonable temporary replacement in Gregor Blanco.

On the other hand, the club does figure to have a rather left-leaning lineup at present. Regardless, the report seemingly suggests that San Francisco was not inclined to take on a large portion of Craig’s deal, echoing prior reports that the team would only be interested in a low-risk acquisition of the former All-Star. And with no current efforts underway, Blanco remains the odds-on favorite to keep Pence’s seat warm in the season’s early going.


Farrell: Red Sox “Fully Expect” Allen Craig To Be On Roster

Red Sox skipper John Farrell said today that “we fully expect” first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig to break camp with the club, as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports. The veteran will need to find his opportunities from the bench, says Farrell, but there is “nothing to expect” regarding a transaction involving Craig.

While it is certainly possible to downplay the importance of Farrell’s comments as regards Craig — broadcasting a desire to deal him would probably be unwise — they nevertheless provide some insight into Boston’s plans for its voluminous collection of outfield bats. As I wrote recently, the club has at least eight viable contenders for the team’s various outfield slots and bench roles.

Assuming that Craig joins Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and Brock Holt on the Opening Day roster, with Holt serving in part as a reserve infielder, the club will likely have only two additional spots to allocate between Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Daniel Nava, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Each of those players, excepting Nava, is eligible for an optional assignment, though there are fairly strong reasons to think that Boston would rather not take that route with Castillo and Betts.

A seemingly minor injury to Castillo has slowed his start, and could provide some justification for starting him off at Triple-A along with Bradley. But unless Castillo suffers a setback or another injury intervenes, the Sox will presumably need to decide whether to option him or Betts, or instead to strike a deal to move one of Craig, Nava, or Victorino.



AL Notes: Craig, Street, Samardzija

The Red Sox shouldn’t be in any rush to trade Allen Craig, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. Craig gives them depth at first base, DH, and both outfield corners, all positions where the Sox have injury and age concerns. He’s not an obvious fit for the Red Sox’ lineup right now, but after a miserable stretch run (Craig hit .128/.234/.191 in 107 plate appearances after Boston acquired him), he doesn’t have trade value either, so it would be best for the team to wait before dealing him. Here’s more from the American League.

  • It’s not often wise for players to represent themselves, but Angels reliever Huston Street is an exception, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. Street, who is about to exchange extension figures with the Angels, is a real-estate investor in Austin who’s capable of handling contract negotiations. (If Street hits the free-agent market next winter, though, he’ll trust Austin lawyer Bill Stapleton to represent him.) “There’s mutual interest,” Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says regarding extension talks. “He understands where we are, and we understand where he is. He’s a big part of what we’re doing. But it’s not going to happen today or tomorrow.”
  • White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija is trying not to focus on his impending free agency, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. “When you step back and look at your situation from afar, it’s a pretty intense situation with a lot on the line,” says Samardzija. “But … I like to think what I demand of myself each time out is more pressure than what a contract or what situation my career is in (can bring).” The White Sox hope to retain Samardzija, but it doesn’t appear that any extension is imminent.

Quick Hits: Craig, Red Sox, Colletti, Coke

Hector Olivera‘s newly-reported free agency could make for an interesting weekend. While we await further word on his market, let’s have a look at a few stray links to round out the evening:

  • The Giants do not appear to have interest in pursuing a trade for Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig to fill in for the injured Hunter Pence, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While that could change if the asking price is “oddly low,” per Heyman, San Francisco is not inclined to make a move of that magnitude with Pence expected to return around the first of May. While a prior report had suggested the possibility of a Craig acquisition, the team would have no apparent role for him upon Pence’s return.
  • Alex Speier of the Boston Globe takes a close look at the evolving ownership and leadership situation with the Red Sox — and, in particular, Fenway Sports Group part-owner and president Michael Gordon. Though some speculated that Gordon was attempting to build his influence over the ballclub as he gained control of the second-largest stake of the FSG umbrella entity, Speier explains that the notion of a power struggle in Boston is just not true.
  • Displaced Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is enjoying his “respite” from the decisionmaking seat, as Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times writes in a fascinating look at the former top baseball man in Los Angeles. Now working as a senior advisor to club president Stan Kasten — who actually extended his contract through 2016 — Colletti says that he is enjoying a more grass-roots role than he could ever have hoped to play in the GM position. At the same time, he indicated that he does not intend to slowly ease out of the game. “The song isn’t over,” says Colletti. “It is just a pause.”
  • Addressing the facially odd decision of lefty Phil Coke to take a minor league deal with the Cubs rather than a reported MLB deal elsewhere, CJ Nitkowski of FOX Sports says it is all about opportunity. Nitkowski says that he, too, made the decision to take a better opportunity on a non-guaranteed deal, though in his case it did not work out as hoped.

AL East Notes: Victorino, Pedroia, Pentecost, Blue Jays, ARod

Red Sox manager John Farrell says the club will start veteran Shane Victorino in right field if he’s healthy, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Farrell added that Victorino is “full go,” indicating that only a setback could change those plans. With Hanley Ramirez the obvious starter in left field, that could mean Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo will compete for the center field job. Others like Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley, Brock Holt, and Daniel Nava appear thoroughly blocked in the outfield. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • Dustin Pedroia is healthy and ready to go, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. My take: a healthy Pedroia means that Betts and Holt are also blocked in the infield. Should everybody remain healthy, some kind of trade looks all but inevitable. Several players like Betts, Castillo, and Holt still have options, so the club can stow some major league quality talent at Triple-A if necessary.
  • The Rays lost great talent this offseason, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Executive Andrew Friedman tops the list of 13 impactful losses. His departure is mitigated by the presence of Matt Silverman. Rounding out the top five poignant losses include Ben Zobrist, Joe Maddon, Joel Peralta, and bench coach Dave Martinez.
  • Blue Jays top draft pick Max Pentecost has undergone shoulder surgery, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca. Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure. Pentecost, a catcher, is expected to resume throwing in about three months.
  • The Blue Jays continue to be faced with three big questions, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. They include the identity of their closer, second baseman, and fifth starter. Brett Cecil and Aaron Sanchez are expected to compete for ninth inning duties, although Sanchez could factor in the rotation battle too. Other candidates to start include Marco Estrada and prospect Daniel Norris. Second base will probably go to Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins, or prospect Devon Travis.
  • The Yankees are right to allow beleaguered veteran Alex Rodriguez to attend camp, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. It’s surprising to see other writers suggest the club swallow the $61MM remaining on Rodriguez’s contract without at least giving him a chance to provide some value. If he fails to remain healthy, the club can also recoup part of the money via insurance.

Red Sox Notes: Outfield, Scherzer, Masterson, Buchholz

We recently look a look at the Boston outfield situation, noting that the logjam still seemed in need of clearance. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in response to a fan that the Red Sox need to trade Allen Craig, Shane Victorino, or both. A healthy Victorino, he continues, would likely either be a regular in the outfield or be traded. Cafardo adds that he does not expect a bench role to suit the veteran, although Boston would likely have to eat some of Victorino’s $13MM salary to trade him.

Here are some more notes out of Boston, all via WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford:

  • The Red Sox had “numerous discussions” with Scott Boras about Max Scherzer over the offseason, Bradford reports. Boston valued Scherzer on the level of Jon Lester, and eventually came to realize that it was not going to get him at a price the team was willing to pay. Boras never gave any indication that a cut rate might be had for Scherzer, a source tells Bradford, and it seems clear in retrospect that he had good reason for that stance.
  • Boston did end up with another talented righty at a much lower cost in Justin Masterson. As Bradford writes, the former Indian bet on himself last year and lost. But he says he has no regrets about failing to reach an extension with Cleveland and settling for a one-year, make-good deal with the Sox. Of course, at a $9.5MM salary, Masterson is receiving quite a nice guarantee while he tries to work through his troubles.
  • Another right-handed starter entering a potential contract year for the Red Sox is Clay Buchholz, who Bradford spoke with recently. Suddenly the veteran of the staff, Buchholz’s guaranteed money runs out after this season. The club controls him for two more years through successive options ($13MM and $13.5MM, respectively), but it is far from certain that they will be picked up. Either way, Buchholz is certainly pitching for his next contract, and tells Bradford that he hopes a normal offseason will contribute to a strong 2015.
  • Bradford was also among the reporters to speak with Koji Uehara yesterday as Uehara detailed his thought process when it came to re-signing in Boston. “No doubt at all,” said Uehara. “It was the only team I talked to so I was pretty sure if I was going to sign it was going to be with the Red Sox. Since the Red Sox had offers of multiple years that really erased any doubts going into the offseason as a free agent. … Because of my age, it was very important.”

AL Notes: Red Sox, Cabrera, Capuano, Mariners

Commisoner Rob Manfred tops the 50 most fascinating figures in baseball, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Manfred has been pro-active during the first month of his tenure, Sherman opines, by already engaging the MLBPA over issues such as keeping the batter in the box between pitches and being ready to ignite play quicker after half-inning breaks while continuing the pitch clock experiment in the minors with an impetus to have them in MLB by next season. Rounding out Sherman’s top five are: Alex Rodriguez, Matt Harvey, Giancarlo Stanton, and Joe Maddon.

Here’s the latest news and notes from the American League:


Quick Hits: Shields, Yankees, Craig

Jim Bowden of ESPN (Insider required) speculates the best fits for the current top 10 free agents. At the head of the list is James Shields who Bowden thinks fits with an AL team. Specifically mentioned are the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, and Rangers. However, now that his price tag may have dropped below five years and $110MM, other teams could get involved too. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also explored nine potential suitors for Shields and turned up plenty of NL contenders like the Cardinals and Padres.


Red Sox Notes: Pitching, Diamond, Betts

If the Red Sox are serious about not wanting to over-commit in money or years to starters in free agency, then Alex Speier of the Boston Globe thinks the club might already be out of the running for next year’s available hurlers.  David Price seems likely to command a contract in the Max Scherzer range, while an NL evaluator thinks Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann could find deals similar to Jon Lester‘s contract with the Cubs.  The Sox topped out at $135MM for Lester this winter and they were only wiling to go that high because they were familiar with him and because he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached.  The volume of high-level aces available in free agency next winter might not do much to keep prices down, Speier writes, as Scherzer and Lester showed this year that frontline starters will always command big contracts.

Here’s some more from Fenway Park…

  • Left-hander Scott Diamond will throw a bullpen session for the Red Sox, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter).  Diamond posted a 4.43 ERA, 4.2 K/9 and 1.92 K/BB rate over 343 innings (all as a starter) with the Twins from 2011-13.  He spent last season pitching for Minnesota and Cincinnati’s Triple-A affiliates.
  • Mookie Betts‘ name surfaced in many trade rumors this offseason, but the top prospect tells MLB.com’s Ian Browne that he’s happy to still be with the Red Sox.  He tried his best to avoid the rumors, though his friends and family “try and keep up with all that stuff. I guess they want to play GM. They let me know the things that are going on.”  Betts’ loved ones may be letting him know about this next item…
  • …as Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron argues that a trade of Betts-for-Stephen Strasburg makes some sense for both the Red Sox and Nationals, though such a deal is “almost certainly not going to happen.”  Betts would give the Nats an elite controllable talent, a big bench upgrade and he’d probably find plenty of everyday work filling in for the injured Jayson Werth or perhaps displacing Yunel Escobar at second.  Tanner Roark could take Strasburg’s spot in the rotation and allow the Nats to explore re-signing Zimmerman.  For Boston’s side, Strasburg gives their rotation a clear ace, and while Betts is a valuable piece for the Sox, his best positions (2B and CF) are both blocked by Dustin Pedroia and Rusney Castillo for the foreseeable future.
  • The Sox are “focused short-term” on Allen Craig, GM Ben Cherington told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford, as the team just wants him to get back into a rhythm following an injury-plagued season.  Craig’s versatility will help him earn playing time on a crowded Boston roster, and John Farrell noted that Craig is open to all options, potentially even his first taste of third base since 2008.